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SANTA FE – Considerable discussion still revolves around Gov. Susana Martinez as a running mate for the GOP presidential nominee. But most of that discussion is now occurring in New Mexico.
Gov. Martinez still seems to be making good moves. She is following the Republican playbook but isn’t causing the fuss that many other newly elected Republican governors are.
Martinez got some good publicity in Arizona recently when she graciously greeted President Barack Obama at the Roswell airport on the way to an appearance at Maljamar.
It may be that the Republican establishment didn’t care for the warm welcome but an Arizona newspaper offered that it was pleasant to see our president treated in a civil manner rather than a finger-shaking diatribe.
When Obama visited Arizona recently, Gov. Jan Brewer was caught on camera giving him what appeared to be a dressing down. The act was said to have enhanced her new autobiography “Scorpions for Breakfast.”
Despite some good political moves by Gov. Martinez, the talk in Washington seems to be turning toward finding an established heavyweight vice-presidential candidate to help their badly battered presidential nominee.
With all the snarly television ads the candidates are making about each other, Democrats will have ready-made ammunition for use in the fall. None of the candidates will choose one of their current competitors as Obama did four years ago.
Thus national Republican leaders are said to be trying to interest people who already have withdrawn from the race or who decided not to get in at all. Those include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
While Gov. Martinez is making some good political moves, she has had some missteps too. The 25-year State Fair racing bid award to a company that was behind in its current contract payments has many wondering what happened.
Then there are the campaign promises Martinez made that her administration would be much more transparent than that of former Gov. Bill Richardson. Numerous media complaints allege that the Martinez administration is just as bad.
And then there are the changes at the state Tourism Department, which have many communities in an uproar. Gov. Martinez hired Monique Jacobson at the top of the cabinet secretary pay scale to bring a perspective from the out-of-state private sector.
Jacobson’s philosophy is to focus on providing service to potential tourists rather than helping out the state’s tourism industry.
It is obvious which group is going to make more noise. Potential tourists, who don’t choose to come to New Mexico, won’t blame our governor. They just won’t come. Their voice will be heard in tourism statistics yet to be released.
But New Mexicans in the tourism business – hotels, restaurants, visitors’ bureaus, etc., are squealing.
Jacobson’s idea, and apparently the industry standard, is to attract younger people who are interested in an active and adventurous vacation.
Since I have heard this from people in the restaurant, entertainment and news business, I will accept that it is the industry standard.
That means I am out of touch. But I can tell you that I am spending a great deal more money traveling now than when I was younger. We couldn’t afford to go anywhere back then.
Roswell, one of Martinez’s best performing areas in the last election, is complaining that only two of the 13 events it requested to appear in the state’s 2012 Vacation Guide made it into print.
City Councilman Dusty Huckabee notes that while Roswell received only minimal coverage, Taos Ski Valley was featured. When Tourism Secretary Jacobson was appointed, she stressed that she had grown up in Taos and that her family built and still operates the ski run.
The two events mentioned for Roswell were the UFO Festival and a 4-on-4 flag football tournament. Football and skiing do fit the goal of featuring activities for young tourists.
And you can’t ignore UFOs.
Jay Miller is a syndicated columnist based out of Santa Fe.